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A wall painting of Anubis the jackal heading god leaning over a sarcophagus

5 most famous lost tombs of Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs

Wall painting in Deir el-Medina, Valley of the Kings | Image: Vladimir Melnik /

Much of our understanding of the Ancient Egyptians is based on archaeological findings in the Valley of the Kings and other key areas across Egypt. Many of the tombs of the most famed pharaohs have been discovered as archaeologists carry out their work but others remain uncovered. Here we look at five of the most famous lost tombs of Ancient Egypt and whether archaeologists are closer to finding these famous kings and queens.

1. Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was not a pharaoh in the traditional sense. He was one of the most famous kings in ancient history, officially the king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon. He spent most of his ruling years forging battles across Europe and Western Asia and conquered Egypt.

Alexander the Great was laid to rest in at least three separate tombs. Modern-day archaeologists do not know where he currently lies. He died in Babylon in 323 BCE and was buried in Memphis. He was later moved to Alexandria and again in a different location in Alexandria, but he remains undiscovered.

2. Thutmose II

Thutmose II’s biggest claim to fame is probably being the brother and husband of famed Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut. He was the fourth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Europe. Despite considerable effort going into trying to discover Thutmose II’s tomb, it has not yet been found. Some of the world’s greatest archaeologists have led expeditions to look for Thutmose II, with no luck so far. Exploration at the Valley of the Kings has yet to uncover Thutmose II, though there was some belief he was buried at Cemetery No. 42 for some time.

3. Ankhesenamun

Ankhesenamun was the wife of the legendary golden king Tutankhamun. She was also part of a generation of beautiful queens who dominated the Amarna Era of ancient Egyptian history. As well as being the wife of Tutankhamun, she was also the daughter of Queen Nefertiti and has a lineage that anyone would be envious of. There has been no discovery regarding her burial to date. Some believe she may have been laid near Tutankhamun in Cemetery No.63 but DNA testing has yet to draw a conclusive result. There are two royal mummies which were found at Cemetery No. 21 and some believe one of them may be Ankhesenamun but nothing has been proven for sure as yet.

4. Nefertiti

The mother of our previous lost tomb inhabitant, Nefertiti is one of the most famous of all Egyptian queens. She was the wife of Akhenaten, recognised as one of the greatest kings of the eighteenth dynasty. She is often referred to as one of the most powerful women in history yet her tomb still has not been found. Records suggest she disappeared in the final days of her life and her whereabouts are still unknown. Archaeological work is ongoing to find her tomb, with the latest research suggesting she may be buried near the tomb of her son, Tutankhamun.

5. Ramses VIII

Ramses VIII was the seventh pharaoh of the twentieth dynasty and the youngest son of Ramses III. He was on the throne for under 12 months and is the only king of the twentieth dynasty whose tomb and burial location has not yet been discovered in the Valley of the Kings. The complexities of the Egyptian burial system for their royals are hard to unravel and archaeologists continue to search to find the burial site of the final twentieth-dynasty king.

Fascinating facts about Egypt’s Pharaohs

Ancient Egyptian history is far-reaching, with its influence on many aspects of modern society unavoidable. Let’s look at some interesting facts about the Egyptian kings and queens you may not have seen before:

1. Both male and female Egyptian pharaohs wore false beards

A beard was considered a huge status symbol in Egyptian society. The average Egyptian man had their beards shaven but pharaohs, including the females, would always wear a fake beards. Beards, even fake ones, were believed to bring you closer to the gods.

2. Gender was irrelevant when it came to being a king

The Egyptians were pioneers in many ways, especially when it came to gender roles. The title of ‘king’ was used to refer to any ruler, whether male or female and their power was absolute regardless of gender. The title of Pharoah did not come from the Egyptians themselves and translates as ‘great house’.

3. Young pharaohs were trained hard for their future

The pharaoh was the most powerful person in the whole of the Egyptian empire and therefore, they had to be trained well to succeed. The younger pharaoh, usually the current pharaoh’s son, would become co-regent and were made to go through special training to ensure they were worthy of the position. Training would include strength building, endurance training and hunting expeditions to build up the stamina, experience, and resilience of the future king.